Game: Nova Lands
Genre: Adventure, Simulation, Action
System: Nintendo Switch (also on Steam, Windows & Xbox One)
Developers | Publishers: BEHEMUTT | HYPETRAIN DIGITAL
Age Rating: US E | EU 3+
Price: US $19.99 | UK £17.99 | EU 19,99
Release Date: June 21st, 2023
Review code used, with many thanks to Stride PR.
Nova Lands is an adventure simulation game about exploration, base building and automation from Behemutt, a Brazil-based two-person development team.
Exploration, Base Building and Automation
When the game begins, you have arrived on a hex-shaped island somewhere in space and climbed out of the pod to discover a strange world. Not too far away is another pod where you meet an NPC who rushes off to a different island: you are left alone to build a base.
There isn’t too much direction given to the player, there are some instructions, but it’s minimal. However, it’s not a game where you need much of a tutorial.
The same can be said for the game’s storyline; it’s minimal, too. However, the gist is that you are there to tap into nature’s bountiful resources with your trusty extraction tool and build a booming planetary industry.
Soon you will have collected some resources using your extraction laser, which you are equipped with. Funny story, when I first started to play the game, and the protagonist popped out of the space pod with the laser in hand, I thought it was a tuning fork (used in music) they held as that is what it is shaped like. So I nicknamed it the tuning fork laser from then on.
Once you have collected some resources, you can start building your first furnace with resources such as basic rocks and wood collected using your handy dandy tuning laser. Soon you will have progressed enough to build many more furnaces and other machinery, and a fully automated island will eventually be built.
As you progress, the research tree opens up and using resources; you can unlock new machinery to help with production.
Furthermore, you will unlock bots to help with the production chain. The bots can be programmed to collect resources and deliver them to the machines to keep the production line going. Using bots also frees up your time so you can go and explore the other islands, but first, you need to unlock the islands and to unlock them, you use resources you have made.
Eventually, you will meet other NPCs on a different island. These NPCs will help you upgrade your equipment, such as your oxygen supply, backpack, extraction tool and blaster gun. One particular NPC lets you change the protagonist’s appearance using different skins; it’s a nice touch.
The NPCs also give you quests to complete, primarily resource-based requests like supplying them with twenty modular bricks and two iron nuggets. Furthermore, there are challenges to complete. They revolve around producing specific amounts of bricks or building 25 buildings on one island; they are fun to complete.
Skill Tree and Combat
There is also a skill tree where you can increase your skills in areas like automation, personal, exploration and production.
Additionally, you can participate in combat in the game with the help of the fighter bots and take on boss battles. Or you can go down the pacifist route and try not to kill anything as I did. I appreciate that the developers have given the player the choice to participate in combat or choose not to.
Nova Lands is a pretty addictive game. Once you have your production line set up and the bots run around, watching them work is relaxing, and the gameplay loop is satisfying. On the other hand, there is a lot to do in Nova Lands, which some folk might find overwhelming; however, you can do it all at your own pace.
If you were to mix Factorio and Forager together, you would end up with Nova Lands. If you liked those two games I’ve mentioned, you will probably like Nova Lands, as it gives the same vibe and gameplay loop.
Visuals and Controls
Visually Nova Lands is presented in 2D with a top-down view. I like how the game looks. Also, once you start exploring, you will notice the islands are all environmentally different, leading you to find new resources. The menus are easy to navigate, and the controls work smoothly and intuitively.
A Few Niggles
Unfortunately, I have a few niggles to mention about Nova Lands. When you have more than one island automated, and the bots move around quickly, the frame rate dips in busy places. In addition to the frame rate issues, the game crashed intermittently on the Nintendo Switch. One minute I was playing, and the next, the game would freeze and boom, I was kicked out to the Switch’s menu screen. Hopefully, this will be fixed once the game is released, as it did break my immersion in the gameplay.
While the sound effects in the game are good, the same can’t be said for the soundtrack; it is one tune that constantly repeats itself, which starts to grate after a while. So I turned the volume down. It would have been nice to hear various music instead of a repeated track.
Overall I like Nova Lands a lot, it has fun and engaging gameplay mechanics, and the gameplay loop is addictive. It’s the kind of game you want to return to after playing for a while. I enjoyed exploring and setting up the production line on the islands and building my home; also, watching the bots run around doing their work is surprisingly relaxing.
Final Verdict: I Like it a Lot